Connect with us


Post Office Won’t Forward Ballots. Will Thousands Displaced by Creek Fire Still be Able to Vote?



Share with friends

The thousands of people who have been temporarily or permanently uprooted by the Creek Fire already have a lot on their minds and may not be thinking about how they’re going to get their mailed ballot for November’s general election.

One important fact to be aware of: The U.S. Postal Service does not forward mail ballots. So if you moved in with friends or relatives who live elsewhere in California — or even out of state — you’ll need to take a few extra steps to make sure you get a ballot.

But no one will be disenfranchised by the Creek Fire or other wildfires burning across California, Valley elections officials tell GV Wire℠.

“Our hearts go out to the folks who have experienced tragedy, and we stand at the ready to help them get their ballots,” said Brandi Orth, Fresno County Clerk/Registrar of Voters.

You’ve Got Options

Orth and Rebecca Martinez, Madera County Clerk/Registrar of Voters, said those people displaced by wildfire have a number of options available to them.

But it’s important to communicate with elections officials as soon as possible, whether by phone or email, Martinez said, because ballots will be mailed starting on Oct. 1.

Voter Help in Madera County

In Madera County, voters can call 800-435-0509 or email to provide a new mailing address, she said. Or, she said, voters can come to the Government Center at 200 W. Fourth St. in Madera starting Oct. 1 to pick up a ballot or vote in person.

Vote Centers will open at the Oakhurst Community Center on Oct. 24 and Foothill Community Church on Oct. 31, and a Mobile Vote Center will be heading to the county’s mountain reaches in October, Martinez said.

The Mobile Vote Center “is new to us, and we’re excited about it,” she said.

Those voters who are unable to access a Vote Center or haven’t provided a new mailing address can request a Remote Accessible Vote by Mail ballot, but they will need an email address, computer, and printer to print out the emailed ballot, which then must be mailed to the Elections Office to be counted, Martinez said.

Voter Help in Fresno County

In Fresno County, the phone numbers to the Elections Office are 559-600-VOTE (8683) and 844-977-8683, Orth said. Voters can call the office to have a ballot mailed to their new address. They also may request a Remote Accessible Vote by Mail ballot, she said.

Some Creek Fire evacuees have wound up as far away as Colorado, but no matter where you are, the Fresno County Clerk’s Office can mail a new ballot to you, Orth said.

Elections offices will open for early voting starting Oct. 5, and voters can head there if they need a replacement ballot, she said.

Election centers will open starting Oct. 31 and remain open through Election Day on Nov. 3, Orth said.

Lines may be a little longer this year because of the need to provide sufficient social distancing in the vote centers where COVID-19 protocols will be in effect, she said.

Voter information for people displaced by fires is available on the Clerk’s website.

Poll Workers Needed

And for people who are looking for some temporary employment, Orth said, Fresno County is still in need of elections workers. Go to

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email